March 11, 2015

The Human Element in Robotic Warfare

By Paul Scharre

The first rule of unmanned aircraft is, don’t call them unmanned aircraft. And whatever you do, don’t call them drones.

The U.S. Air Force prefers the term “remotely piloted aircraft” to refer to its Predators, Reapers, and Global Hawks. And for Predators and Reapers, that undoubtedly is a reflection of their reality today. They are flown by stick and rudder by pilots who just happen to not be onboard the plane (and sometimes are on the other side of the globe).

For aircraft like the Global Hawk, which is largely automated and does not require a pilot with stick and rudder, but rather has a person direct the aircraft via keyboard and mouse, the question of whether they are “remotely piloted” is a bit murkier.

Read the full article at War on the Rocks.

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